Movement & Animations in Apple’s iOS 7 Could Exacerbate Migraine Symptoms

Users who have upgraded to Apple’s iOS 7 for mobile devices, like iPhones and iPads, are reporting dizziness, nausea, and headache caused by the motion of the operating system’s animations. The zooming, sliding, parallax and other movements are particularly problematic for people with vestibular disorders and some neurological disorders (like migraine), but healthy people are also lodging complaints.

Currently, the only solution is to not upgrade to iOS 7 and not buy a new iPhone or iPad. If you’ve already upgraded or purchased a new device, you can lessen the movement by changing the accessibility setting to “reduce motion” (Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion)*. This will only stop the parallax motion, not the zooming and sliding. It is no longer possible to downgrade your phone to iOS 6. I learned these things firsthand and have resorted to closing my eyes whenever launching or switching apps, opening and closing folders, sending text messages, or working in email.

The only long-term solution is for Apple to change it’s accessibility settings so that it doesn’t make users feel sick. This will only happen if users let them know the motion is a problem. If you’ve had your symptoms exacerbated by the upgrade, please email accessibility@apple.com to explain which animations are problematic for you and ask how to disable them. Let them know if you’ve already tried the “reduce motion” setting and it was not helpful for you. If you’ve decided not to upgrade because of motion issues, it’s just as important to let them know that you will upgrade (or buy a new device) when they’ve made the software usable for people who are sickened by the motion.

Apple has a history of being committed to accessibility, so I’m hopeful they will right this problem now that they’re aware of it. It helps that this issue has gotten national and international coverage, including a Jimmy Kimmel sketch last night. Unfortunately, most of the coverage says that changing the accessibility setting to “reduce motion” fixes the problem, even though that only stops the parallax, not the other movement. That’s right, the “solution” Apple currently has available and is telling the media about doesn’t actually solve the problem.

So, it’s up to us, the users made sick by the unnecessary sliding and zooming, to let Apple know the extent of the problem. Send the accessibility department an email and talk about it on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re up for it, comment on news articles that claim the “reduce motion” setting is a fix or email or tweet those reporters. The wider and faster the word spreads, the quicker we’ll see a real solution.

*The “reduce motion” setting is only available on the iPhone 4S and newer. Thanks to readers Randy Sarah and Annie for helping figure that out.

10/24/13: Apple has released an update to iOS 7 with a greatly improved “reduce motion” setting. Once you upgrade to iOS 7.0.3, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion to turn on the setting.

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Comments

View Comments (11)
  • Randy Sarah
    5 years ago

    I made the change in the Accessibility setting on my iPad, but I don’t have the option to reduce motion on the phone. It just isn’t on the list.

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks Annie! I’ve updated the post to include that information.

  • Annie
    5 years ago

    The reduce motion option is not available on the iPhone 4; only the 4s and higher. Its probably something similar with the older iPads too.

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    5 years ago

    That’s odd. When I emailed Apple, they said the reduce motion option was available on the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c, but it’s an option for me on my iPhone 4S. Do you have an older version?

  • Randy Sarah
    5 years ago

    Oh…that’s what that is. I keep complaining at the Apple store that there has been things wrong with my iPhone and iPad since I got the updates. (There have been multiple problems and glitches, of which what I call the jerky movement is only one.). And I didn’t make the connection with the increase in migraines the past couple of weeks, because there are always multiple trigger factors going on that could account for it. But I bet that is it. I am always on my iPad and often on the phone. Thank you for pointing out the correlation, and I’ll at least try the fix now and see if it helps.

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    5 years ago

    Best of luck. You may also want to email Apple’s accessibility department (accessibility@apple.com) to let them know you’re having trouble with. Always good to have one more voice registering the difficulty officially.

  • lara
    5 years ago

    Bet it is related to the switch to flat design. The eyes probably don’t like the motion with the associated depth.

    And no. That’s not snark.

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    5 years ago

    Interesting thought. I have no idea if that’s what’s going on! My biggest issue is with the zooming and sliding.

  • lara
    5 years ago

    Without… the associated depth. Stupid aphasia.

  • dmae
    5 years ago

    Thank you, Kerrie. When I first heard about the new iPhone motion issue, I actually caught myself in a bit of snarky, dismissive thought bubble,just because my m.’s aren’t triggered by the upgrade. Not proud of that moment.

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    5 years ago

    I’m proud of you for catching it! And thanks for sharing your experience — it’s any easy thing to slip into. Glad you’re OK with the upgrade.

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